Market segmentation is the division of a market into distinct groups of buyers who might require different products or marketing mixes (Kotler et al, 1994). It is the division of a heterogeneous market consisting of buyers with different needs and wants, into homogeneous segments of buyers with similar needs and wants. Therefore, the segments are heterogeneous between (ie. all the segments are different, eg. one segment all males, one segment all females) themselves, but homogeneous within (eg. within the male segment, all buyers are male; within the female segment, all buyers are female).
Segmentation is important as buyers have unique needs and wants. In segmenting a market, marketers look for broad classes of buyers who differ in their needs. There is no one right way of segmenting markets. A marketer has several bases available to him/her for the segmentation of markets.
Bases for Segmenting Consumer Markets
1. Geographical segmentation
Segmenting markets on the basis of geography involves dividing the market into different geographical units, eg. states, regions, countries, where the company pays attention to geographical differences in needs and wants. For example, there may be a greater need for T-shirts in the Northern part of Australia all year round rather than in the Southern part.
2. Demographic segmentation
Demographic segmentation involves dividing the market into groups based on demographic variables such as age, family size and life cycle, occupation, etc. It is the most popular bases for segmenting consumer markets because consumer needs often vary closely with demographic variables, an also because of the ease of measurement of the variables. Even when other bases are used for segmentation, demographic variables are still used in the description of the segments. For example, you may divide a country into Northern, southern, Eastern and Western regions. But, you may still describe each of the regions in terms of the demographics of the buyers living there eg. age, income, sex, occupation, race, etc.
3. Psychographic segmentation
Using psychographics to segment markets divides buyers into groups based on socioeconomic status, lifestyle or personality characteristics. Example, dividing the Australian market into leisure-seekers, work-oriented, and family-oriented segments.
4. Behaviour segmentation
Behaviour segmentation is where buyers are divided into groups based on their product knowledge, usage, attitudes or responses. Within behaviour segmentation, of particular importance is a powerful form of segmentation, benefit segmentation, which groups buyers depending on the various benefits sought by buyers from the product class. For example, you could segment the cereal market based on the benefits sought by cereal buyers: brand (eg. Kellogg's), nutrition and health (eg. Sultana bran), diet (eg. Special K), taste...